Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando

Someone drops a boulder in a lake, and the water rises at once into a crown of shock, and then back down again, and ripples fan out, intersecting other ripples, at first in an orderly way, then chaotically; rivulets follow well-worn gullies to their usual destinations, puddles reappear in their usual depressions, every drop resettles into its easiest, most accustomed spot--and the lake reassembles, one stone higher. It's hard to see how many stones it will take for the lake to abandon its banks altogether.

Most of us cannot even imagine harboring the hate that would drive a man into a nightclub to mow people down. It's unfathomable, we say, but then later, as we recoil from the inciting horror, and call out for our brothers and sisters to reconvene into our familiar tribes, and gather our armor, and set up pickets, and ready our weaponry, and peer suspiciously at the next band over, we can feel it, just a little bit.

This one had it all. You can see the cross-currents forming right away. Everyone scans the headlines for their own vulnerabilities: who's under attack? Is it "them," this time, or is it us? Who's to blame? And even then we can't agree. It's clear as tears that the LGBT community is the target of this terrorist act. But everyone feels threatened. American Muslims note the name of the attacker with dread, and hunker down, knowing they're next.  News establishments cast their stories as an attack on "Americans," protecting their bread-and-butter, the anti-Muslim sentiment.  Gun advocates scroll out their tired talking points, ready for battle. Factions rush in to remind us that Wounded Knee was a worse massacre, as though unable to make a distinction between a lone gunman and the 7th Cavalry, and certain that righteous historical victims have been dismissed yet again. Others declare the disaster the natural consequence of ignoring God's law (and not the one against murder). Multitudes take to the social media to babble incoherently, unable to navigate their own turbulence, their hatred of Muslims and their hatred of queers suddenly in tension. A presidential candidate discovers that, once again, it's all about him.

Behind our pickets, we can feel that hatred, just a little bit. We won't do anything about it except to keep chucking pebbles in the water, but we'd all be fine without this tribe, or that tribe. We'd be fine if only the Muslims would go away. Or the Christians. Or religion. Or secularism. Or the gun nuts. Or the faggots. Or the liberals. We've all got someone to hate. It's the hardest thing to let go of. We're doing our victims a disservice to let the hatred die, we think. We're dishonoring them.

Someone reportedly once said we must love our neighbors as ourselves. It's impossible, of course. It's ridiculous. It's bringing a pillow to a swordfight. It doesn't solve anything.

The swords don't either.

45 comments:

  1. I don't know what to say about this latest horror. One more in a long string of such horrors :(

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    1. I think the first one made the second one possible, and so on. What would never have occurred to someone to do is now standard currency.

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    2. If only they could all take a step back, maybe think "Oh I'll do it tomorrow" and by then they'll see it's wrong and not do it.
      Weren't we all taught as children to think before we act?

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    3. I think we've gone a ways past that, but it's a nice thought. Sane people rarely say "Oh, maybe I'll wait to spray people with bullets tomorrow."

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  2. "We must love our neighbors as ourselves."

    This presupposes that we actually love ourselves, but how many people really do? People who love and respect themselves are happy. Happy people do not go around hating other people, much less killing them. If we don't love and respect ourselves, we cannot expect to feel love and respect for others. You cannot give away that which you do not have.

    I don't know how people can develop this trait, as everything about our current paradigm seems to involve shaming... telling us that we are not quite good enough. Parents start this process with their young, and the advertising industry does a remarkable job of constantly feeding this feeling. Our puritanical society confuses self-love with egotism. And vice versa, because egotistical people actually have the lowest opinions of themselves and are over-compensating. (I'm lookin' at you, Donald Trump.)

    I know... I'm just rambling here, because I have no solution.

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    1. I think for most people who love themselves, it was a birthday gift from their parents. It's harder to give it to yourself.

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  3. I am afraid. I feel the change coming and you're right, I hunker down. And grieve for that which is no more. :-(

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    1. We're looking down a very dark tunnel, in many ways.

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  4. Until we can somehow raise every child to love itself, which will take all of us being able to reflect love and esteem for every child, we will have children growing up to hate themselves and vent that hate on the world. This young man apparently was a closet homosexual as well as a homophobe and was also a violent and troubled person.

    We will also have to do a much better job of identifying and treating mental disorders, another factor that may have played a role in this terrible incident.

    And of course, we will have to make people of all races, cultures, and religions feel inclusive, or they will be forced to find their own group which will be against ours.

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    1. I'm curious how much the internet has had to do with fomenting hatred, also. It certainly enables us to assemble our tribes and reinforce each other (against the other tribes).

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    2. Yeah, I was thinking about that just the other day. With all the wonders the internet has brought, I never foresaw that it would have this effect as well.

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    3. I know I would hate to be an adolescent girl in the internet age.

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    4. Right. But it's not gonna happen in my lifetime, alas.

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  5. As wise as it is beautiful. What an essay.

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  6. I despaired after Sandy Hook, believing the deaths of all those little children would result in a change of America's gun laws. But now I think of how slowly the acceptance of LGBTQ rights have come about in this country--gradually, slowly--building into a tidal wave that could not be held back. I believe this is happening now re: guns--too slowly, but still happening--the vast majority will finally speak up against the NRA and their political lapdogs. We need to be willing to move this forward in our own personal conversations, contact with our representatives, in social media, and in blog posts. So thank you, Murr. And keep at it. Change will come--if we demand it.

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    1. What the NRA has done most effectively is persuade its members that they're under attack. What a paranoid bunch.

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  7. So eloquent. So much good, thoughtful analyses of Orlando. So very much needed after seeing things like the pastor of the Verity Baptist Church in Pasadena celebrating because "50 pedophiles were killed", demonstrating a profound level of cretinism. And to top it off, the Republican contender, the Screaming Yam himself, spouting more nonsense and conspiracy theories. How many times does this lunatic have to jump the shark before the Trumpanzies see him as he really is? You are an oasis of sane in the cesspool of insanity out here.

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    1. The Screaming Yam. Never heard that before! Thanks!

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    2. 50 pedophiles? Weren't they just ordinary restaurant customers? That Pastor probably needs to get his facts before sermonising.

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    3. They were fifty gay men and women at a dance hall on Latino Night. Odds of them being pedophiles are about the same as the odds of the next 50 people being pedophiles. And the pastor has no interest in or familiarity with facts.

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  8. Yes.
    From this side of the world we watch. In fascinated horror. Much like those who gawk at car accidents.

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    1. I feel calmer just thinking about you on the other side of the world. With the wombats.

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  9. Sadly, we on this side of the world have not only square-pooed wombats, but full-blown dingbats, too.
    https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwim3N_896rNAhXjFaYKHSAQBcMQqQIIHDAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fnews%2F2016-06-15%2Felection-2016-bob-katter-%27shooting%27-video-criticised-orlando%2F7512912&usg=AFQjCNGNMfj_ITYpBOrvcyNNfU4yxBaa6w&sig2=vLcBgQe07LdGFx3hzDuV4A&bvm=bv.124272578,d.dGY

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  10. Couple lines of thought:
    1. I"m glad you're there in Portland, or within an hours drive in rush hour. When I lived there and out in Boring, I loved that town, in the 70's Cary and I walking over to the ball game from our apt at 1811 NW Couch. Building is still there, as of a few years ago.
    I'm glad that there are you out there that still care about my Oregon and Portland.

    As a 4th gen small n native, I bestow upon you full citizenship in the republic of Springfield, and also in Eugene in charnel m. park.......free admission!

    2. I've had these line of thought I'm seeing in your writing, often and therefore numerous times over the decades.

    I was looking up at the hill from broadway to the castle on the hill before you got there, on my way to class.

    3. You have a duty to survive, as writer, to yourself, and those who you might influence in the many years remaining. You have a lot to offer, m'dear. Don't be selfish.
    PS, it's snowing in Butte.

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    1. Maybe you and Dave (Grant High '69) were going to PS at the same time. Butte looks better in the snow, right?

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  11. I think you touched on a really valid point in your reply to Marilyn about the role of the internet in all of this. Instant communication has to be fanning the flames of hatred in a way never possible before in history. Technology in general has made it possible to record bad ideas and disseminate them to all the corners of the earth in mere moments. That's some major self-gratification for the people preaching and spreading hate and violence. I don't know what can be done about it, but I think you're right that it's a contributing factor.

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    1. Even the simple act of "venting" (which, in my mind erroneously, implies a letting off of steam) is now a full-fledged sacrament on line. Nothing is vented: pressure builds.

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    2. You're right. It's been shown (please don't ask for backup links though) that venting actually fuels anger. Going away (eg., for a walk) and doing something to distract from the emotions is quicker and more effective to reduce our anger. This is also what I have found personally. Venting ramps up the adrenaline and prolongs the emotion.

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    3. On-line venting also has the bonus of attracting a swarm of people validating your anger. You go girl. Go for a walk?

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  12. I been so sad and frustrated... thanks for your input... A better explanation than what has been rattling around in my head this past week...

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  13. Please send this to the Christian Science Monitor and every influential media outlet you can. It is more poignant and thoughtful than most of what's out there. Beautiful and sadly written. Thank you Murr.

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  14. I know there is a change but it's not just Orlando. It's global. It is definitely a chilling change and feels like being hopeful is getting harder day by day.

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    1. It does feel as though we're circling the drain, as a species. There have been many good developments too.

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    2. Yes but sadly the good things are not picked up much by the media these days. We have to work ar seeking them out. I wish it were the opposite way.
      I'm in UK at the moment and it's the day before Brexit. I cannpt understand why some Brits now feel the need to be devisive as the EU faces the brunt of massive refugee turmoil.

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  15. How do we fix this? How do we change people's minds?How can we get everyone to care about everyone else? Only questions, but no good answers.

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    1. I'm going to try to remind myself not to be reflexively cruel or dismissive to people whose viewpoints I bridle against. Some kind of engagement is the only way forward. (PS I've shown no ability thus far to do this.)

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  16. Just read that the man who killed the politician in Britain today built his gun using instructions on the internet from an American hate group. So much hate here that we are now sharing it? We are circling the drain.

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    1. Well, it's a tiny world out there, tinier all the time with the internet. The hate is already out there.

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  17. Oh Murr, I do love you. Your (usually genteel) anger is one of many fine qualities. But when you're pissed off, your words come together so powerfully, so beautifully. It's a magnificent thing to behold. Sigh.

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    1. Ohh. And from an English teacher! Thanks.

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